Zanna Don’t! is a splashy song-and-dance show — with a twist.
All the action takes place in a parallel universe where homosexuality is the norm and a relationship between a girl and a guy sets tongues wagging.
The musical fairy tale by Tim Acito, with additional lyrics by Alexander Dinelaris, is really a parody of Walt Disney’s High School Musical, said Karmen Rodomar, the Red Deer-raised director of the Attic Players production. The Canadian premiere of the off-Broadway hit opens on Thursday for a two-week run at The Matchbox in Red Deer.
The setting is Heartsville High, where football players are viewed as nerds and the captain of the chess team is the coolest guy in school.
Since heterosexuality is strictly forbidden in Heartsville, a matchmaking fairy named Zanna uses his magic powers to create sparks between the high school quarterback, Steve, and chess champion Mike.
Just as love seems about to bloom between the two guys, Steve develops inexplicable feelings for Kate — who is supposed to be in a relationship with Roberta.
Only those who don’t accept lesbianism and homosexuality will be offended by the heterophobic premise of Zanna Don’t!, said Radomar, who believes there’s nothing lewd about any of the characters’ actions.
Public displays of affection between gay students in the musical “are very minor. There’s some cheek kissing and hand-holding, just the things that might be seen at any straight high school. . . .
“It’s just really a happy, upbeat musical with great music and catchy songs,” added Rodomar, who doesn’t want to go as far calling it a family-friendly show, but believes it’s appropriate viewing for anyone 12 and up.
In fact, seeing it might be a good way to open up a parent-teenager dialogue about homosexuality, she added, noting the musical encourages looking past stereotypes. “It’s about who the characters are as people. . . .
“Being gay or straight doesn’t make that much difference to who you are, except in one small portion of your life,” she said.
Attic Players, the Calgary-based theatre company that contacted Rodomar to direct Zanna Don’t!, decided to do a two-week run of the musical in Red Deer before it opens in Calgary to give Central Alberta theatregoers a chance to see something a little different.
“We thought it would be kind of neat, because a Red Deer audience doesn’t usually get a chance to see this kind of show,” said Rodomar, who graduated in 2003 from the Red Deer College Theatre Studies program.
As well, she believes it will be interesting for the ensemble cast to see whether audiences react differently in Red Deer and Calgary.
Two other RDC Theatre Studies people are involved in the eight-actor production — student Jennifer Webster choreographed the dance sequences and fellow student Shane Gramlich plays Steve.
Rodomar said a live three-piece band will also be featured in the 21-song musical, which is produced by music director Shelby Reinitz.
More information is available online at www.atticplayers.com
Tickets for the 8 p.m. shows that run May 27 to 29 and June 2 to 5 are $21.50 from Ticketmaster.